It’s fitting that the fighter who is known by the nickname, “The Monster” will make his ring return on Halloween night. Naoya Inoue, one of the scariest punchers in boxing today, may well give us all some thrills and chills a week on Saturday. But facing the Japanese star will be a man who can bang himself. Australia’s Jason Moloney will square off with Inoue in a fight that will see Inoue defend his two bantamweight titles.
Inoue, 19-0(16) has not actually scored a knockout in almost a year-and-a-half. The unbeaten 27-year-old was on a thrilling KO streak from September of 2016 until November of last year. Having taken out his last eight opponents (three of them inside just two rounds) when entering the ring to face Nonito Donaire, a good number of fans felt the Filipino, as great as he was, would also fall. Not so. Instead, Inoue had to overcome the toughest fight of his career, suffering a busted orbital bone as he did so.
The instant classic was 2019’s FOTY, the 12 rounder showing us how much Donaire has left while also letting us know that Inoue can take it as well as dish it out. But can Inoue get back to knocking people out now? The pandemic ruined his April 2020 fight with John Riel Casimero (for now at least), and against Moloney, Inoue will be having his first fight in almost a full year. Coming off his career-toughest fight, with the layoff to boot, isn’t ideal for Inoue, especially against as dangerous and hungry a fighter as the never-stopped Moloney.
Moloney, taking further encouragement from Teofimo Lopez’s great win over Vasyl Lomachenko, tweeted after that fight how “another big upset (is) coming and a new king (will be) crowned in 2 weeks.” Moloney has also said he will be trying his best to “knock his head off,” meaning of course Inoue’s head. At 21-1(18), the 29-year-old from Victoria in Australia has a great record. However, fans who like to compare the respective performances two rival fighters had against a common opponent might feel Moloney will be outgunned by Inoue when they see how Emanuel Rodriguez defeated him (via split decision in Moloney’s only other attempt at winning a world title), yet was crushed in two painful rounds by “The Monster.”
But as we know, styles make fights. Can Moloney score the upset over Inoue the way he says he will? It’s almost certain we’ll get a good action fight in finding out, put it that way. Can Inoue get back to laying guys out or did the Donaire war take something from him? Can Moloney get his own bombs home or will Inoue catch him early and do damage?
Inoue Vs. Moloney might not have as much intrigue attached to it as Inoue-Casimero had, but October 31st’s fight matches two hard-hitters together, with each man having a fierce will to win. To borrow a few words from the one and only Muhammad Ali – it will be a killer and a chiller of a Halloween thriller when “The Monster” and Moloney deliver!